Seton Hall’s men’s and Women’s cross country teams have a lot to hope for, regardless of how results played out at the Big East Championships.
On the women’s side, they finished last and had no runner in the top-50 times. Before the meet, Seton Hall had at least multiple top-25 finishers in every event this season.
At the beginning of the season, head coach John Moon expected last year’s freshman sensation, Emma Newgarden, to have a strong season, along with the Hernandez Twins, Emily and Olivia, who were then sophomores.
It turned out to be Arianna Braccio, a freshman, who paced the team at the championship. Braccio finished one spot shy of the top-50 as she raced to finish first among Pirates. The Nashua, N.H. native finished her first collegiate season leading Seton Hall runners in two events, finished runner-up among Seton Hall runners in another two events and was top-3 among Pirates in all but one event this season. Braccio rounds out her year with a collegiate victory and two top-six finishes.
After losing senior Jared Moser, who had the fastest time among Pirates at last year’s Big East Championship, this year’s men’s team would have to look elsewhere for a consistent top finisher. Moser also had the fastest Pirate time in the 2018 IC4A Coach’s Race, led the Pirates in that year’s NCAA Regionals and added five top-25 finishes to his decorated senior season.
Coach Moon said he expected Jesse Southard, who he considered the other top runner along with Moser last season, to improve on another solid year he had as a junior. However, injuries hindered Southard throughout this year. After the senior finished third place in the opening meet at the Salisbury Invitational, Southard had to miss the next five meets and subsequently the Big East Championships.
For both squads, the actual season finale was another championship.
The Pirates competed in the 2019 ECAC / IC4A Division I Cross Country Championships and both teams ended on a good note as they took home more hardware.
The women’s team finished first out of five teams in the Women’s 5K run. Seton Hall dominated the event as Kassi Yocco secured her first win of the season after leading the Pirates in four previous events. Braccio finished runner-up, the Hernandez twins finished sixth and seventh while two other Pirates made the top-five.
The men secured the No. 2 spot overall and saw sophomore Cole Kretlow pace the team with his fifth place finish. Four other Pirates finished in the top-20 with John Loeffel rounding out his impressive freshman season by good enough for 15th place.
Loeffel, who is also has a twin brother on the roster, stepped up to finish first among Pirates in two meets, top-three in his other two events and even placed fourth in his first ever college race.
As Coach Moon wraps up a bittersweet ending to the 2019 cross country season, the plethora of youth and depth amongst his squad bodes well for the team’s future in the Big East standings.
Out of 34 runners between the two programs, they only lose five. As runners gain more experience and finish more meets, their place in standings will continue to trend upward.
Evando Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @ethmps.